Simpson Marine Search Yachts
11th March 2024

Ensuring Safety at Sea: A Guide to Yacht Safety Equipment and Preparedness

The great open waters of the world are no longer the unknown, deadly entity they once were when sailors set off into the wild blue yonder, knowing not what they would find nor whether they would ever return. Luckily for modern thalassophiles, with incredible new communication and location technologies, precise weather reporting, and high-tech safety equipment, spending time on the water has never been safer. Yet it can never be entirely without risk, and open water is sometimes an unpredictable, deadly force of nature. This article examines essential safety equipment and protocols that every responsible yacht-lover must have in place to protect themselves, their vessel, and the lives of others.



Alongside the following items of equipment that are non-negotiable aspects of any responsible yachting excursion, carrying a certain number of spare parts and tools is also highly recommended. Nothing could be more frustrating or expensive than calling for emergency rescue if the problem is nothing more than a simple fuse that needs replacing. 

  • Life jackets

It should go without saying that life jackets are crucial on a yacht, and most have them, but what condition are they in, and will they fit the people on board? Carrying one life jacket for each person on board is the absolute bare minimum requirement, but it is much safer to choose ones that comfortably fit and will not be more of a hindrance than a help if the wearers find themselves in the water. 

Carrying a range of sizes and styles is the best way to ensure everybody has a good fit, and doing this before they even set foot on board is advisable. They must meet the highest standards and be in excellent condition, so inspecting and cleaning them regularly is critical. Wearing life jackets at all times is preferable, especially for youngsters and the vulnerable.


  • Fire safety equipment

Fire is a dangerous, potentially catastrophic entity in almost any situation, but it is hard to think of a worse place than onboard a yacht in deep water if a fire breaks out. Appropriate numbers of the correct fire extinguishers for different fuel sources are essential, as are fire blankets. Any trip offshore should only commence after highlighting the location and use of fire-safety equipment for all on board. In the literal heat of panic, if a fire breaks out, it is easy to become flustered and misuse equipment, rendering it ineffective or even worsening the situation. Familiarise yourself and your passengers with all the life-saving objects on board, even running drills if necessary. 

  • First-aid kit

Medical emergencies on board yachts are not unheard of, especially those on fishing expeditions, and a well-stocked first aid kit is a crucial addition to any vessel. The onus should be on mitigating the effects of any injury or medical crisis while the yacht returns quickly to shore and professional medical treatment can be administered. Some items to include in an excellent first-aid kit include: 

  • Painkillers
  • Motion sickness products
  • Thermometer
  • Tweezers
  • Sharp scissors
  • Medical-grade alcohol Iodine tincture
  • Gauze, bandages, and plasters
  • Sunscreen and after-sun lotion
  • Cold compresses 

Remind your guests to bring any required medications, such as epinephrine injection pens for severe allergic reactions, asthma inhalers, etc.


  • Kill cord

Whoever takes control of the vessel should be attached to a kill cord that stops the engine immediately if disconnected. Each system and engine will vary, but traditional physical cords can also be replaced by wireless ones in some circumstances. The last thing you need is for the captain to be incapacitated while the vessel is moving, especially if nobody realises until it is too late.

  • Dredging pumps and equipment

In emergencies where the power is out, old-fashioned buckets are a valuable tool in removing water from your vessel. Generator-run bilge pumps should be a standard item onboard but do not rely solely on them. If the water is entering faster than you can pump and bail it out, it is time to head for the lifeboats before the situation reaches its inevitable tipping point.

  • Life rafts with engines or oars

In worst-case scenarios where the integrity of the main vessel is fatally compromised, there is no option but to abandon the ship and take to the life rafts. These rafts are at the mercy of the tides and currents without the ability to propel them, so outboard motors or oars and paddles are essential to prevent drifting. Equip your life rafts with emergency supplies and ropes to lash yourselves to the vessel if conditions are treacherous.

  • Distress Signals

Location devices that transmit distress signals are also crucial to any rescue efforts. The ability to attract attention through emergency distress channels and visually, using flares, can mean the difference between being found quickly and rescued or spending countless hours drifting while teams search the area. Keep your flares dry and in excellent condition at all times, carrying the following:

  • Red and white hand-held flares
  • Orange smoke flares 
  • Parachute flares



At Simpson Yacht Charter, we take nothing more seriously than the safety of our clients, and all our captains and crews are fully trained in the procedures and techniques required in emergencies. We would never charter a yacht that did not meet our stringent safety standards and pride ourselves on an impeccable record. If you would like to discuss chartering a yacht and get helpful information and advice from our experienced team, please contact us at your earliest convenience. We will gladly provide details of our safety protocols and any features of our incredible range of vessels.

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